Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has invented a sleek James Bond-style car, which Libya says is the safest vehicle on earth.

The car was unveiled on the 30th anniversary of the revolution which propelled the Libyan leader to power.

The Saroukh el-Jamahiriya (Libyan rocket) a five-passenger saloon in a metallic Libyan revolutionary green with tinted windows, was launched at a special summit of the Organisation of African Unity organised by Colonel Gaddafi.

The car has the aerodynamic lines of conventional models but the front and rear ends are rocket-shaped.

The interior is replete with air bags, an inbuilt electronic defence system, and a collapsible bumper which protects passengers in head-on collisions.


Dukhali Al-Meghareff, chairman of the Libyan Arab Domestic Investment company which produced the prototype, billed it as revolutionary in automotive history.

He said it was developed from safety ideas conceived by Gaddafi.

The company plans to set up a factory next month in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, to start production.

"The leader spent so many hours of his valuable time thinking of an effective solution. It is the safest car produced anywhere," Mr Meghareff said.

"The invention of the safest car in the world is proof that the Libyan revolution is built on the happiness of man."

Image revamp

The BBC's John Simpson says that the invention is a response to the fact that thousands of Libyans are killed and injured on the roads every year.

Mr Gaddafi has also been intent on reinventing his image since the lifting of sanctions against Libya in April.

The end of the sanctions followed the handover of two suspects wanted in connection with the 1988 Lockerbie air bombing.

Mr Al-Meghareff told a news conference at the rocket-car launch that Mr Gaddafi had spent his time during the sanctions "thinking of ways to preserve human life all over the world".

He added that the provocative name of the car was meant to highlight that while others made rockets to kill, Libya designed them for humane and peaceful purposes.


TRIPOLI—Libya launched a rocket onto the automotive scene Sept. 6 with the unveiling of a "state of the art" prototype of its new automobile, "Sayarat Saroukh El-Jamahiriya" or the "Libyan Rocket."

Unveiled during a week of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the September 1 Revolution that brought Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi to power, the unveiling was the first time a Libyan company has introduced a new car. It will be 100 percent Libyan produced, a spokesman said. Libya plans to open a manufacturing plant in October where the car will be assembled.

"The car was two years in the making," said Dokali Megharieff, chairman of the Libyan-Arab Domestic Investment Co. (LADICO), to more than 100 journalists in town for the celebration and a special session of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). He added that "the drive behind producing such an unprecedented high-safety car was mainly due to the great human and material losses suffered by Libyan families during an unjust, oppressive regime of sanctions in the past years."

The mid-sized, five passenger car boasts a variety of hi-tech and safety devices. Libya plans to produce 50,000 cars per year during the first several years. The car has special front and rear-end designs that help to reduce fatalities during collisions through the creation of a "crumble zone;" anti-roll devices; a "smart" collapsible bumper and tires that resist blowouts. Also, the car uses Xenon technology, which reduces headlight glare to oncoming traffic. The rocket-shaped prototype is Libyan green with tinted windows.

The Libyan Rocket was introduced by LADICO, a private Libyan company that employs over 1,000 people in its Automobile Division. Mr. Megharieff said Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi "spent weeks and days shaping and reshaping his ideas" for the car on the drawing board before LADICO scientists took the concepts and shaped them into reality.

Mr. Megharieff said that while the car was produced as a result of U.S.-led sanctions, the international embargoes on his country were "the worst and inhumane thing in the world. But when you have pressure on you, you must have solutions," he said.